I was taking a relaxing hike after work and I came across these two Red-spotted Garters and one Northwestern Garter, all within a three-foot radius. Some children in the area saw me photographing them and wanted to learn more about them. I was thrilled by the children's enthusiasm and I was delighted by their insightful questions. I was especially impressed with one mom who admitted to being afraid of snakes, but she didn't want her children to grow up with the same irrational fear. "We fear what we do not understand."
As you can see, these snakes (and most snakes in the U.S.) pose no real threat to humans. At no point did these snakes attempt to strike me; I did not make them feel threatened or defensive. Snakes should be respected, but there is no rational reason to fear or hate a garter snake. They're one of the best things you can have in your garden. It's why these are often called "gardener snakes".
When I post about the beneficial nature of snakes and their importance in the food web, inevitably there are those who feel the need to post a comment expressing fear or hate, often with some anecdote, usually involving a dog or a venomous snake. The snakes in this post are garter snakes. Unless you are an insect, these garter snakes pose no real danger to you, particularly if you (and your dog) learn how to behave around them. Heck, a cute little furry puss caterpillar (Megalopyge opercularis) can inflict more pain than a garter snake if you don't respect them!
I would encourage everyone to be more like the mom I met on Friday. Since we do fear what we do not understand, help teach the next generation to be knowledgeable and respectful, not fearful and hateful, whether it's toward snakes or toward each other.